Tensions Ramp Up Over Proposed Energy East Pipeline in Canada

13 05 2015

By Hilary Beaumont

May 12, 2015 | 11:55 am

North America’s longest proposed pipeline is facing a new hurdle after a coalition of Canadian environmental groups sent a letter today slamming the project as a “fiasco” and demanding regulators quash it.

In the letter, the groups take aim at a lack of public input on TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline, the potential threats to drinking water and the Bay of Fundy, and the pipeline’s impact on climate change. Climate groups are also planning protests in Ontario and New Brunswick, so as summer approaches we’ll likely see a lot more opposition in the pipeline’s path.

The mounting tension comes amid support from the premiers of the two provinces bookending the proposed pipeline, which would carry 1.1 million barrels of crude per day from oil rich Alberta to New Brunswick’s coast.

Landlocked Alberta is desperate to get its oil out to international markets, but newly minted premier Rachel Notley has said she won’t push for either the Northern Gateway or Keystone XL pipeline proposals.

However, Notley does see potential in the proposed Energy East pipeline, which would carry more oil than Keystone XL. And New Brunswick premier Brian Gallant said last week his first order of business after congratulating Notley would be to impress upon her the importance of Energy East to his province.

“It’s a project that I think is important for Alberta, it’s a project that’s important for New Brunswick, it’s a project that’s important for the whole country,” Gallant told reporters. “It’s going to help us with our collective goal of creating jobs and growing the economy.”

But the coalition of Canadian environmental groups that are calling on the National Energy Board (NEB) to halt the proposal point to “numerous problems that have come to light with the regulatory process.” They say the only “responsible” thing to do is stop it in its tracks.

TransCanada’s proposal was originally submitted only in English, rather than both official languages, and the company confirmed in April it would cancel a proposed port in Cacouna, Quebec following concerns about a beluga whale breeding ground. The cancelled port and initial lack of a French-language proposal render TransCanada’s application incomplete, the groups assert.

Catherine Abreu, Energy Coordinator of the Ecology Action Centre, one of about 50 environmental groups that signed the letter, said the pipeline would end at the Bay of Fundy, which is “an extremely unique body of water.” Because of the way the water behaves in the bay, she said, oil spills that happen there are much tougher to clean up. The tanker traffic in the bay is expected to increase as a result of the project, which would intensify the risk of oil spills and negatively affect endangered whales that breed there, Abreu emphasized.

“North Atlantic Right Whales, which are one of the most endangered whale species on the planet, they call the Bay of Fundy their home throughout the warmer months, and that’s an important breeding ground for them,” she said.

Critics are also concerned the National Energy Board no longer has to consider public opinion from citizens who aren’t directly affected by the project.

NEB spokesperson Katherine Murphy told VICE News on Monday that the board allows citizens to participate in a pipeline hearing “in a fair and efficient manner.”

“The NEB may also choose to hear from those with relevant information and expertise,” she said. She pointed out that TransCanada has provided most of its application in French on its website.

“We will continue to file amendments every quarter, which reflect adjustments and changes that come as a result of our engagement with stakeholders, elected officials, First Nations and Métis leaders,” TransCanada spokesperson Tim Duboyce told VICE News this week. It filed its first application for Energy East on Oct. 30, 2014.

The company also plans to submit studies on the best ways to build water crossings to mitigate environmental risk, Duboyce said, adding that TransCanada has “been very active on the ground” in discussing the project with elected officials and First Nations leaders.

But on February 3, the Chiefs of Ontario wrote a letter of concern to the Minister of Natural Resources Greg Rickford about the NEB’s approval process, saying board had declined multiple requests by the chiefs for in-person information sessions.

They’re not the only ones. Wolustuk Grand Council member Ron Tremblay told VICE News TransCanada has refused to consult with the council, even though it’s the traditional government of the Wolustuk people.

Tremblay said council members were taken aback by the company’s refusal to consult, so they formed a “peace and friendship alliance” with environmental groups and other allies and are planning demonstrations this summer.

“We strongly oppose the Energy East pipeline because of the fact that it will cross our main river, the Wolustuk river and tributaries numerous times, and the possibility of spillage into the rivers, lakes, streams is really high because of the past historical events through Canada and the US that pipelines do leak and do burst,” Tremblay said, noting that he speaks on behalf of the council but not all Wolustuk people.

Back in August 2013, the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs said they “have serious concerns over negative environmental impacts” from the pipeline.

On Monday, AFN Regional Chief for New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island Roger Augustine told VICE News the pipeline could be beneficial to First Nations from a business perspective, but any approval of Energy East must respect both treaty rights and the environment.

“It’s the right time, and it’s not all doom and gloom, but there has to be a certain amount of respect and fear by the governments of what First Nations can do and are capable of doing,” he said.

The regional chief and New Brunswick’s premier, who was elected last September, may be touting the project’s economic benefits, but not everyone’s convinced.

Populations have been moving westward from Atlantic Canada for generations, Abreu said over the phone from Halifax, and most of the jobs created will be in the construction phase of the project.

“What I am most struck by in the Energy East campaign is how cruel a lie it is that this project is going to create prosperity and jobs in Atlantic Canada,” Abreu said. “It just isn’t going to happen. I think the reason that narrative works so well here is because there’s so many people in New Brunswick and PEI and Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador who see their communities and their families being gutted by migration to the oil sands, and there’s this belief that if some of the oil from Alberta comes east, that the jobs will come with it, and they’ll bring our boys home, and that just isn’t true.”


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2 Degrees C: Tar Sands Must Stay in the Ground

9 01 2015

85% of tar sands must stay in the ground to limit climate change to 2 degrees Celsius

With Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s environment minister meeting with provincial and territorial leaders to discuss post-2020 carbon emission targets in late February, the federal election this October, the pivotal United Nations climate summit in December, and a federal government decision expected on the Energy East pipeline just a few month later by May 2016, the release yesterday of a new report on what Canada must to do to limit climate change to 2 degrees Celsius is of critical importance.

The Canadian Press reports, “British researchers [from University College London] have concluded that most of Canada’s [tar] sands will have to be left in the ground if the world gets serious about climate change. The report, published in the journal Nature, says three-quarters of all Canada’s oil reserves and 85 per cent of its [tar] sands can’t be burned if the world wants to limit global warming.”

“The report also concludes that no country’s Arctic energy resources can be developed if global temperature increases are to be kept manageable. It adds that about one-quarter of Canada’s natural gas reserves and four-fifths of its coal would also have to be left in the ground.”

CBC adds, “[The study] says for the world to have a reasonable prospect of meeting the target, no more than 7.5 billion barrels of oil from the [tar] sands can be produced by 2050 — a mere 15 per cent of viable reserves and only about one per cent of total bitumen.” And the Globe and Mail further notes, “Domestic estimates of Alberta’s oil reserves come in at about 168 billion barrels, with hundreds of billions more available for extraction if future oil prices make the resource more attractive. The study uses a more conservative estimate of 48 billion barrels as the current reserve and then finds that only 7.5 billion barrels of that, or about 15 per cent, can be used by 2050 as part of the global allotment of fossil-fuel use in a two-degree scenario.”

In response to this study, Natural Resources Canada said, “The majority [of the world’s energy] will come from fossil fuels, even under its most stringent greenhouse gas reduction forecast. The choice is whether to use energy from a secure, environmentally responsible, transparent country like Canada, or to seek energy from less stable countries without responsible environmental policies.” And Andrew Leach, the Enbridge Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Alberta, says that even using 25 per cent of Canada’s oil reserves between now and 2050 would lead to growth above current rates of production.

In terms of production, in early October 2014, Canada was exporting about 2.98 million barrels per day of crude to the United States. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers has said they expect oil production to reach 3.91 million barrels per day in 2015 and 6.44 million barrels per day by 2030. And in terms of meeting our carbon emission target, the Globe and Mail has reported that documents submitted by the Harper government to the United Nations in December 2013, “show that, without further policy action, Canada’s emissions would be 734 megatonnes by 2020, or 20 per cent higher than the target of 612 megatonnes [that the Harper government agreed to at the United Nations climate summit in 2009].”

The Council of Canadians is against the proposed Keystone XL, Northern Gateway, Energy East, Trans Mountain and Arctic Gateway pipelines. Together, those pipelines would move about 3.45 million barrels of oil per day or about 1.26 billion barrels a year. If all of these pipelines were to become operational, they would exceed the 7.5 billion barrel limit noted in this British study in less than six years.

And as now supported by this study, we have called for a moratorium on the offshore extraction of oil and gas from Arctic, an end to fracking, and opposed coal export terminals in British Columbia. As an alternative, we have called for the development of sustainable energy sources in a joint report with the Canadian Labour Congress titled Green, Decent and Public.

We were also present for the climate talks in Lima in 2014, Cancun in 2010 and Copenhagen in 2009. At those summits, we called on the Harper government to commit to an emissions reduction target of at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. We have also stated that Canada’s fair contribution to climate adaptation for the Global South should be $4 billion yearly. And we have argued for inclusion and a democratization of the climate change negotiations process. The next United Nations climate summit – COP 21 – will take place November 30 to December 11 in Paris.

Further reading
85% of oilsands can’t be burned if world to limit global warming: report (Canadian Press)
Climate change study says most of Canada’s oil reserves should be left underground (CBC)
Oil sands must remain largely unexploited to meet climate target, study finds (The Globe and Mail)

 





BP oil spill dispersants concern Nova Scotia environmentalist

29 12 2014

Bill C-22 is ‘an absolute, total abdication of regulatory responsibility’

CBC News Posted: Dec 29, 2014 9:38 AM AT Last Updated: Dec 29, 2014 9:38 AM AT

Crude oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill washes ashore in Orange Beach, Ala., on June 12, 2010.

Crude oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill washes ashore in Orange Beach, Ala., on June 12, 2010. (Dave Martin/Associated Press)

A Shelburne County environmentalist is raising concerns about a toxic chemical that could be used off Nova Scotia in the future.

When the Deepwater Horizon oil platform erupted in flames in 2010, it spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico, but some research says the cleanup was worse because about 6.8 million litres of the chemical Corexit 9500A was used to disperse the oil.

The dispersant used by oil company BP, when mixed with crude oil, was found to be 52 times more toxic than oil alone to some microscopic plankton-like organisms called rotifers.

“When you mix this stuff with the oil, you create a compound that is substantially more dangerous than even the dangerous dispersant on its own or even the dangerous oil on its own and this is the issue that we have,” says John Davis, a founder of the No Rigs Coalition.

He says Shell has already put out bids to use Corexit if there is a spill at a well planned for the Shelburne Gully.

“The creators of CoRexit will tell you it’s less toxic than dish soap. All you have to do is read the warning label to know that it’s a highly, highly dangerous chemical.… There is no doubt in my mind that if Shell made the effort they could find ways to clean up the oil and not just be prepared to disperse it and put it under water and out of sight,” he says.

‘Total abdication of regulatory responsibility’

Davis says there is legislation in place to prevent the use of chemicals like Corexit, “but what happened here is that the federal government has decided to put forward legislation called Bill C-22 — which in fact creates a circumstance where the oil company can go and utilize the product, the dispersants, and then report after the fact to the regulatory agencies. It is an absolute, total abdication of regulatory responsibility.”

Bill C-22 was introduced by the federal minister of Natural Resources earlier this year.

It would pre-approve emergency plans for oil and gas companies to deal with spills, such as the speedy use of dispersants, or chemicals used to break oil into smaller particles in the event of an oil spill at sea.

Davis says he worries the chemical could end up on the Georges Bank, pointing out the Labrador Current would carry any material right to the fertile fishing grounds.

“It’s that [upwelling of water] that provides much of the nutrients that makes Georges Bank such an important biological place — and so important to us as an economical generator,” he says.

A publication in the February 2013 issue of the scientific journal Environmental Pollution, found that on their own, the oil and dispersant were equally toxic. But when combined, the oil and dispersant increased toxicity to one of the rotifer species by a factor of 52.

‘High and immediate human health hazards​’

Dispersants cause giant pools of spilled oil floating atop the sea to break up into tiny droplets that then dilute with water just below the surface. The process helps creatures including turtles, birds and mammals that need access to the surface, and also ensures less oil flows ashore where it can choke coastal wildlife. However, it increases the amount of oil just below the surface, potentially contaminating the organisms that live there.

Scientists at the Autonomous University of Aguascalientes in Mexico and the Georgia Institute of Technology now say Corexit 9500A is far more harmful than previously thought to a key dweller of those sub-surface depths.

An Environment Canada study states the dispersant is 27 times safer than common dish soap, but some say that figure is dangerously misleading. The study also states that five of Corexit’s 57 ingredients are linked to cancer and can pose “high and immediate human health hazards.”

In all, the British Petroleum oil leak was the largest offshore petroleum spill in U.S. history, sending 4.9 million barrels (584 million litres) of crude into the Gulf of Mexico.





CATHOLIC BISHOPS FROM EVERY CONTINENT CALL FOR ‘AN END TO THE FOSSIL FUEL ERA

29 12 2014

 POSTED ON DECEMBER 11, 2014 AT 4:45 PM UPDATED: DECEMBER 12, 2014 AT 9:05 AM

Catholic Bishops From Every Continent Call For ‘An End To The Fossil Fuel Era’

Pope Francis and a group of bishops at the Vatican.

Pope Francis and a group of bishops at the Vatican.

CREDIT: AP PHOTO / ALESSANDRA TARANTINO

A group of Catholic Bishops called on the world’s governments to end fossil fuel use on Wednesday, citing climate change’s threat to the global poor as the lodestar of their concern.

According to the BBC, the statement is the first time senior officials in the Church from every continent have issued such a call. The statement also drops in the middle of ongoing international climate talks in Lima, Peru, as countries continue to hash out what to do about climate change in the run-up to a summit in 2015, where observers and activists hope a new international agreement will be finalized.

“We express an answer to what is considered God’s appeal to take action on the urgent and damaging situation of global climate warming,” the bishops wrote.

Striking a similar note to Naomi Klein’s recent book, “This Changes Everything,” the bishops’ statement also argued that global capitalism and its economic systems, as currently designed, are incompatible with long-term ecological sustainability: “The main responsibility for this situation lies with the dominant global economic system, which is a human creation. In viewing objectively the destructive effects of a financial and economic order based on the primacy of the market and profit, which has failed to put the human being and the common good at the heart of the economy, one must recognize the systemic failures of this order and the need for a new financial and economic order.”

The document calls on the international community to “adopt a fair and legally binding global agreement” to cut carbon emissions at the summit in Paris next year. Specifically, the bishops insist on limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C relative to pre-industrial levels — a considerably more ambitious goal than the 2°C ceiling that’s generally agreed on as the threshold beyond which climate change becomes truly dangerous — and on building “new models of development and lifestyles that are both climate compatible” and can “bring people out of poverty.”

“Central to this is to put an end to the fossil fuel era, phasing out fossil fuel emissions and phasing in 100 percent renewables with sustainable energy access for all.”

The goal of reducing global carbon emissions to zero is already making the rounds in Lima, and the Associated Press reports that dozens of governments are on board with the idea. At its current rate of emissions, the world will actually use up its “carbon budget” — the total amount of greenhouse gases it can emit this century and still stay under 2°C — by 2040, though slowing that rate in the coming years will extend the deadline.

The bishops’ logic and their goal for restraining temperature increase is rooted in prioritizing “the immediate needs of the most vulnerable communities.” Indeed, precisely because of their lack of resources and infrastructure, many of the globe’s poorest populations — particularly those in Southern Asia and Africa — are especially vulnerable to the droughts, floods, rising seas, storms, and other forms of extreme weather that are part and parcel of climate change. Meanwhile, a report released by the United Nations this past Friday determined that the amount poor and developing countries will have to collectively invest in adapting to climate change will run between $250 and $500 billion annually by 2050 even if the world does keep to the 2°C threshold. There’s also at least some scientific evidence that the effects of climate change at a 2°C rise will be considerably more severe than generally thought.

The U.N. report also determined that there is currently a massive gap between what the developing countries will need and what the developed world is willing to pay — a point of considerable tension in the international talks. While China has overtaken the United States as the biggest cumulative emitter, the U.S. maintains are far higher level of emissions per capita. Furthermore, climate change is cumulative, meaning the bulk of the effects are still driven by the carbon the U.S. and the rest of the western world historically emitted in the course of building their wealth. That greater wealth per person also means advanced countries have far more room to invest in cutting emissions and in aiding the still-developing neighbors.

“Those responsible for climate change have responsibilities to assist the most vulnerable in adapting and managing loss and damage and to share the necessary technology and knowhow,” the bishops continue, while insisting that 50 percent of all climate-related public funding go to meet the developing world’s adaptation needs.

While this is a first by some markers, the Bishops’ statement also continues a long tradition of engagement with environmental issues and climate change by the Catholic Church. Pope Francis himself has made the religious case for combating climate change, warning that “if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us!” Earlier this year, the Church held a five-day summit bringing together scientists, economists, philosophers, astronomers, and other experts to explore ways the Catholic church could address climate change and its related challenges. Francis has also singled out the destruction of the rainforest as a “sin,” as is working on an official papal encyclical tackling the environment and humanity’s relationship to it.





Fracking Moratorium Could Force Corridor Resources out of NB

20 12 2014

Hundreds of jobs at stake near Sussex, government says mine has other options

CBC News Posted: Dec 20, 2014 1:11 PM AT Last Updated: Dec 20, 2014 1:11 PM AT

A fracking moratorium in New Brunswick could affect hundreds of jobs by forcing Corridor Resources to leave the province, according to the natural gas and petroleum company.

President and CEO Steve Moran says Corridor Resources is still gauging the impact of the moratorium, but says if it lasts for a long period of time, the company may have to relocate outside of the province.

“We’ll have to move our capital and our expenditures elsewhere. We really don’t want to, but we’ll have no choice,” Moran said.

 Corridor Resources has been fracking near Sussex for a decade. The company co-owns a pipeline with PotashCorp that carries fracked gas to the new potash mine in Penobsquis, where about 450 people work.

The moratorium will prevent Corridor Resources from fracking for more gas to continue supplying the mine, according to Moran.

Premier Brian Gallant introduced the moratorium on Thursday,explicitly outlining five conditions that must be satisfied before the moratorium is lifted.

The moratorium will not be ‘grandfathered’ for companies with projects already underway.

“It’ll be up to them to see if there’s other ways to be able to continue their operations without the process of hydraulic fracturing,” Gallant said.

Energy Minister Donald Arseneault says the mine has other options.

“PotashCorp has other means as well to access gas as they’re connected to the Maritimes Northeast pipeline, ” Arsenault said.

The Maritimes and Northeast pipeline connects natural gas from developments from offshore Nova Scotia to markets in Atlantic Canada and the northeastern United States.

Arseneault also says Corridor Resources has several active wells that don’t need to be fracked in order to supply the PotashCorp mine.





Largest Tar Sands Pipeline to US Shut Down Indefinitely After Spill of 50,000+ Gallons

19 12 2014

Enbridge Inc., based in Calgary, Alta., has agreed to pay about $6.8 million to settle a class action in one of the costliest onshore oil spills in U.S. history. (photo: AP)
Enbridge Inc., based in Calgary, Alta., has agreed to pay about $6.8 million to settle a class action in one of the costliest onshore oil spills in U.S. history. (photo: AP)

By Scott Haggett, Reuters

18 December 14

nbridge Inc said on Thursday it has no restart date yet for its 796,000-barrel-per-day Line 4, the largest oil-export pipeline to the United States, after it was shut a day earlier after a spill of 1,350 barrels at its Regina, Saskatchewan, oil terminal.

Graham White, a spokesman for the company, said in an email the spill originated at a flange or valve within the terminal, so there were no problems with the pipeline itself. He said that could mean the problem is “a relatively easy fix”, but could not speculate on when the line would return to service.





Chief Ninawa Huni Kui: Carbon Trading Scheme “REDD” is a False Solution to Climate Change

16 12 2014